Eden and Gethsemane
Two locations, separated by time but forever joined in the greatest story of history: Eden and Gethsemane. The season of Lent can have many sanctifying influences on the believer’s life, but none so evident or “Lenten as our battle with the pervasiveness of sin in us. From the symbol of ashes placed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday. . . what more prominent location to declare that sin has infiltrated every part of our being . . . to the darkness that spreads over the land on Good Friday when the battle with sin reaches its climax on the cross. It is finished there when the Victor lowers His head and dies.
Sin raised its ugly head in a garden millenniums before and now meets its doom, once more in a garden. Eden and Gethsemane span the ages. “The first Adam began life in a garden. Christ, the second Adam, came to a garden at the end of His life. In Eden Adam sinned. In Gethsemane Christ the Victor overcame sin. In Eden Adam fell. In Gethsemane Jesus conquered. In Eden Adam hid himself. In Gethsemane our Lord boldly presented Himself. In Eden the sword was drawn. In Gethsemane it was sheathed. (R. Kent Hughes) In Eden Adam fled from God. In Gethsemane Jesus fled to God. The symbolism is too rich to ignore; the message too grand to smother; the medicine too powerful to diminish.
What issued from Eden is too horrendous for our eyes to behold as down through the ages the wages of sin have wreaked pain and ruin upon mankind. Perhaps by lumping the sufferers together into a generic, less personal, “mankind, we can “manage the contemplation of it; but not when we see and feel the misery visited upon individual babies, children, women, and men. Neither the eyes nor the heart can bear to see or hear the pain up close, devoid of the anesthesia of distance. When my first wife was dying of cancer which was ravaging her body she whispered the words into the dark one night not knowing anyone was around to hear, “Cancer is so terrible! When we see the affects and results of sin near and far, when we contemplate its horror in life after life after life, when we confront its anguish and gruesomeness in our own personal experience, maybe then we can grasp a clearer picture of the awfulness of sin, coming to hate its existence with everything that is in us; to hate it so much we want nothing to do with even the hint of it; to hate it with such passion we cry out for its Conqueror, and flee to His protection. We won’t go there if we can stomach sin. We will go there if it nauseates us sufficiently. Nausea simply cannot be tolerated for long. We need to be nauseated by sin. If we are not we are too sick to care about anything that is truly good.
Sometimes the only way to combat sin in our lives is following the example of Jesus in Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-46) The second Adam, Jesus, is not like the first. Adam succumbed without a fight because of a wishy-washy view of sin. Jesus prayed with perseverance and determination seeing the awful reality of sin and the devil; He would not be deterred from the path necessary to your salvation and the removal of your sin. There is not a better goal for these weeks of Lent than to get a clear view of the sin in your own life. Then Good Friday and Easter and the lesson of the cross and the tomb will breathe life into the tired bones of your soul and you just might leap for joy.
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